Published March 20th, 2020 by Stephanie
Very few Americans manage to get through life without having to take some medication. For the lucky few, medicine may only ever come in the form of off-the-shelf products, like cold medicine, or to manage minor allergies during a certain time of the year. Most Americans, however, will at some point, have a doctor prescribe more powerful medication, either to cure a condition, manage symptoms or help to keep pain from being overwhelming after surgery.
For a few Americans, prescription medication becomes a long term—or even lifelong—expense. Some people with disorders such as diabetes or asthma need constant access to medication to manage their symptoms. Others with conditions later in life, such as severe arthritis, may need painkillers to alleviate the discomfort. In these situations, the ongoing expense of needing medication can be significant and, over the years, adds to a major amount. For people who aren’t wealthy, this can be a serious drain on the budget, but there’s some help in the form of prescription discount cards.
Unlike other items for sale, such as food and clothing, prescription pharmaceuticals don’t go on sale. There are no ads online, or flyers deliver to the door talking about specials on prescription painkillers, or 50% off topical steroid skin cream for treating eczema. Without special circumstances in effect, people that get a prescription from a doctor and then visit a pharmacist to get their medication will pay the full price for that medicine, and that price is determined by whatever the pharmacy—or its corporate owners—feel the market in that area can bear.
A prescription discount card, as the name suggests, is a document that you present to a pharmacist. If the pharmacist recognizes and is affiliated with the discount program of the presented card, then the final price of the medication will be reduced by a certain percentage. Over time, this can mean some big savings, especially if the discounts are for 50% or even more, which some medications are subject to.
One thing to be aware of is that there are many different prescription discount cards, and not all of them are suitable for the needs that people have. To make the most what these cards can do, you need to find the best discount prescription drug card for you, and what card that will be depends a lot on the personal needs that you have. There are a few different factors that you need to look at when evaluating which card is the one that will do the most good for you.
For some, this may be the only determining factor that matters, especially in rural areas, with fewer choices for pharmacies. Discount cards aren’t universal and will not work at every pharmacy. Discount programs are only in effect when a pharmacy agrees to become an affiliate of that program.
So when looking at discount card options, the best discount prescription drug card may boil down to the only that your preferred pharmacy will accept. In some cases, this may even be a discount card that the pharmacy, or its owners, offer to customers.
For example, if the only pharmacy in your immediate area is located in a Walmart outlet, Walmart has its own discount card that people can apply for. That means this card will not be recognized at any pharmacies that aren’t in a Walmart, but this may not be an issue for you if you have no plans to buy medication at non-Walmart pharmacies regularly. The same is true of Walgreens, which also has a similar discount card that is recognized only within other Walgreens outlets.
Always check with your preferred pharmacies to see which discount card programs they are affiliated with.
Another major factor will be the amount of a discount applied to a particular medication. All discounts are not equal, and different affiliate programs will apply different discounts to the same medication. So, for example, one discount card may offer 10% off for a painkiller, but a different discount card will have the same medication with a 45% discount.
In this case, the higher discount determines which card is better. However, if you’re buying multiple medications, this may require a bit more balancing and judgment. Whatever medications you need, look at the discounts, different cards are offering and see how they compare.
Another area that people should look at is whether there are any conditions required for being able to use the card. In some cases, a discount card is only accessible if people are willing to pay for it. Walgreens is an example of this, as the discount card they offer has an annual membership fee that needs to be repaid every year to retain the use of the card. Other cards, however, are free, which is the case with Walmart cards.
Another factor to keep in mind is whether a discount is permanent or one-time only. One variation of the prescription discount card is the “coupon.” In the case of a coupon, a shopper still enjoys a lower price upon purchasing a medication; however, the coupon is then surrendered, and the next time there’s a need to purchase that medication, it will be at full price. Discount coupons are often offered at a doctor’s office, as a way to let patients try new medications at a subsidized rate.
Ultimately, the best discount prescription drug card will be the one that is in line with your own medication needs and living situation. One way to hedge bets is to go with a free card that has wide “coverage,” such as the one provided by the USA Rx website. This card is recognized in all 50 states by over 60,000 pharmacies, including larger retail chains such as Target. It’s a free card, and you can either sign up and print out the card for yourself, or keep a “digital card” on your phone to present to the pharmacist at the time of purchase. Either way, it’s a good solution.
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